best filters for larger aquariums

BEST FILTERS FOR LARGE AQUARIUMS – TOP 7 REVIEWED!

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We all know that when it comes to setting up an aquarium that one of the most important, if not the most important pieces of equipment is the filter. This is not only because using a filter saves us time on maintenance making it needed less often, but also to keep the water free of toxins, clean, and a suitable environment for our chosen fish.  

Small and large aquariums alike need filters but since we are discussing the best filters for large aquariums, we will concentrate on their needs. These are, due to their larger water capacity, high-powered filters with three-stage filtration and the capability to turn over the aquariums water volume preferably four times an hour. There are, of course, as always some exceptions to this rule. Lower flow rates may be more suitable to:

  • Live planted aquariums
  • Fry aquariums
  • Aquariums with small fish
  • Betta aquariums

Higher flow rates may be more suitable to:

  • Aquariums with large fish
  • Reef aquariums
  • Goldfish aquariums

Although there are many types of filter available such as HOB, sponge, and undergravel the best for a large aquarium is undoubtedly the canister filter. These, have usually, been designed with the large aquarium in mind and have all the features and capabilities that they need.

The Best 7 filters for larger aquariums we found and reviewed are:

If you have a smaller aquarium and you’re looking for a suitable filter then you may be better reading our BEST FILTERS FOR SMALL AQUARIUM guide.

$147.36
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$200.95
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$339.99
$399.99
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2 used from $316.19
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$379.99
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$169.99
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2 used from $123.43
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$139.99
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Last updated on December 14, 2018 12:11 am

#1 Fluval External Filter 406


MakeFluval
Model06 Series
TypeExternal canister
Tank SizeFrom 50-260 US Gallons
Filter Size7.6 x 14.5 x 16.2 inches
Weight9 pounds
Power120V/60Hz: 5W & 230-240V/50Hz: 5W
Customer Reviews1600
Star rating3.9 out of 5

The Fluval external is suitable for tanks of up to 70 gallons and has a powerful motor capable of maintaining a strong flow in between aquarium cleans. It is quiet and has a precisely engineered bearing that minimizes impeller vibration.

The filtration the Fluval External provides is three stage; chemical, mechanical and biological. There is also no need for siphoning as this filter has instant prime. There is also guaranteed no leaks or mess during maintenance as the Fluval External has aquastop valves.

There has been a previous version of this filter and unlike in some cases where the new really doesn’t better the old, this one really does. There has been a 10% increase in the flow of the newer version and it has been modified to be easier to use and clean. Overall the new Fluval External filter is just all around better.

On a less positive note, the tube length could be longer and the initial set up could be simpler. However, these are only slight niggles and should not deter you from buying one of these.

Main pros

  • Value for money
  • Easy to use
  • Very quiet

Main cons

  • Tall (will not fit under all aquariums)
  • Can produce annoying microbubbles
  • Suction stronger that output

For more information or to purchase click here.

#2 Polar Aurora 4-stage External Canister Filter


MakePolar
ModelAurora 4-stage
TypeExternal Canister Filter
Flow Rate525 GPH (2000L/hr).
Tank Size100-200 Gallons Max
Dimensions 5"x11.5"19"
Power Rating10-120V 50-60Hz
Customer Reviews181
Star Rating4.0 out of 5

This canister filter is equipped with a built-in 9 watt UV sterilizer that controls algae spores and bacteria helping to keep your water cleaner. It is suitable for aquariums up to 200 gallons and can turn over 525 gallons of water per hour.

Standing at 19 inches the Polar Aurora is suitable for fitting under most aquariums and comes with an incredible four media trays, adjustable spray bar, and self-priming pump. This eliminates the need for siphoning during maintenance and difficulty getting the filter back up and running after.

The overall performance of this canister filter is great especially considering the low price that it is available at. There are, however, some slight niggles including the pipes not being particularly flexible and it not being designed for easy movement during maintenance.

Main Pros

  • Quiet
  • Replacement parts easily available
  • Great value for money

Main Cons

  • Pipes not particularly flexible
  • Over tightening the pipes can break the hose connectors
  • Not the easiest filter to move during maintenance

For more information or to purchase click here.

#3 Fluval Advanced Filtration System


Fluval Advanced Filtration System

MakeFluval
ModelFluval Advanced
TypeExternal Canister
Tank Size80 to 160 Gallons
Flow Rate265 gallons per hour
Voltage 110 V 60Hz
Dimensions10 x 9 x 13 inches
Weight22.4 pounds
Customer Review240
Star Rating3.4 out of 5

The Fluval advanced offers all the benefits you expect from a Fluval canister filter and more. It has power, long-term reliability, omits no noise and provides high performance for tanks up to 160 gallons. The water volume it turns over is 265 gallons per hour.

Unlike other canister filters, however, the Fluval Advanced has the added benefit of Hydrotech; an intelligent monitoring system unique to Fluval. This can store and communicate to the user real-time filter performance, water parameters and cleaning schedules along with aquarium temperatures and conductivity. All this information is displayed on a screen located on the filters casing.

On the downside, the pipes are opaque on this canister filter which makes it difficult to clean them thoroughly as you can’t see inside. The outer casing is also easily marked and scratched meaning it won’t look pristine for long. These, however, are very minor setbacks with this filter and nothing that should prevent you from purchasing it.

Main Pros

  • Hydrotech system
  • 15 PSI pressure
  • Compact design

Main Cons

  • High price range
  • Closed system (repairs not possible)
  • High tech reliability

For more information or to purchase click here.

#4 Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter


MakeFluval
ModelFX6 Filter
TypeExternal Canister Filter
Flow Rate563 GPH
Tank Size400 US Gallons Ma
Wattage120V/60Hz: 43W
Dimensions16 x 16 x 21 inches
Media Capacity11.5 Liters
Customer Reviews238
Star Rating4.3 out of 5

Fluval has to be one of the most recognizable and respected names in the world of aquatics and with good reason. Put simply they make high quality and high-performance products that you can rely on with the Fluval FX6 being no different.

A multi storage filter that can be used with both marine and freshwater tanks the Fluval FX6 uses smart pump technology for ultimate filter performance. It is self-starting, just add water, plug in and go and has a monthly maintenance reminder built in. This is handy for those out there like me that have multiple aquariums and cannot always keep track of exactly when each was last cleaned.

Fluval state that this filter can pump at 563 gallons per hour making it suitable for tanks up to 400 gallons. Remembering the guideline of turning your aquarium’s water over four times an hour, however, it may need additional help or be more suited to smaller aquariums.

Function wise the Fluval FX6 has a multi-directional output nozzle, aquastop valves for easy maintenance and an electronic circuit board that monitors the impellers speed and pump power. It is also exceedingly quiet and at 21 inch high fits underneath most aquariums.

On a less positive note, the Fluval FX6 does not come with all the media needed to fill this canister filter so there will be an extra expense purchasing the extras needed.

Main Pros

  • Incredibly reliable
  • Easy to clean
  • Excellent media products

Main Cons

  • Heavy
  • High price range
  • Replacement parts (can be difficult to source)

For more information or to purchase click here.

#5 Hydor Professional External Canister Filter


MakeHydo
ModelProfessional 450
Tank Size100-150 US Gallons
Flow Rate320 GPH
TypeExternal Canister Filter
Dimensions10.5 x 8.5 x 22 inches
Weight16 pounds
Customer Reviews299
Star Rating3.9 out of 5

Described as a complete ECO-system in a box the Hydor Professional 450 not only delivers a high performance but is also designed to make the most of the space under your aquarium. Depending on how high the flow rate is set this filter can move 75-125 gallons per hour of water through your aquarium.

A solid and well-constructed filter the Hydor Professional 450 is easy to set up, maintain and use. It comes with everything you could need and more including a unique ‘no bypass’ design which ensures that water always passes through the filtration media.

To ensure powerful filtration the Hydor Professional 450 comes with extra wide tubing that allows increased water flow and ball valves to control the level of flow. An expandable spray bar is another great feature of this filter which helps you to adjust water flow to your perfect level.

On the downside, as this filter is fairly new replacement parts can be difficult if not impossible to source. It is also not the easiest canister filter to perform water maintenance with as there tends to be leaks and spills.

Main Pros

  • Silent
  • Expandable spray bar
  • Flow rate adjustment

Main cons

  • Maintenance (possible water spills)
  • Replacement parts
  • Priming pump (temperamental)

For more information or to purchase click here.

#6 Jebao 503

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Suitable for tanks up to 60 gallons and with the capability to pump approximately 200 gallons per hour around your aquarium the Jebao 503 has to come close to if not top in this list of best filters for large aquariums. Don’t get me wrong it is not entirely perfect but for the money, you pay it is pretty close.

Easy to set up and with multistage filtration over three baskets the Jebao 503 is easy to prime, has 360° hose connection turning, and a really good flow rate. It also has rubber stands underneath to heighten optimal vibration damping. It is suitable for both marine and freshwater aquariums.

On a less positive note the Jebao 503 does not include the charcoal, bio balls or ceramic rings that are needed to run this filter, they will need to be purchased separately. It also is not as quiet as it claims to be.

Main Pros

  • Easy to prime
  • Good value for money
  • Compact size

Main cons

  • Loud
  • Hard to understand instructions
  • Filter media not included

For more information or to purchase click here.

#7 Eheim Pro 4+ 250 Filter


MakeEheim
ModelEheim Pro 4+
TypeExternal Canister filter
Tank Size100 Gallons
Dimensions10" x 10" x 14"
Weight12 pounds
Customer Reviews13
Star Rating3.6 out of 5

Eheim Pro 4+ 250 Filter

The Eheim Pro 4+ replaces the Pro 3 range and is suitable for aquariums up to 65 gallons. It has a flow rate which is adjustable, a self-priming button, three-stage filtration and an additional control function the Xtender. This clever little design counteracts blocked filter media and extends the time between maintenance.

From a positive point of view, the Eheim Pro 4+ is incredibly quiet which is always a plus as no one likes to hear the ‘humming’ vibrations of a filter at work. It also involves no work when it comes to filling and restarting as it has a self-priming button. It is also easy to clean and comes with all the media, filter pads and installation products you need.

On the downside, the Eheim Pro 4+s adjustable flow rate is not exactly precise. Turning the flow up a notch and then back down one does not seem to result in the original flow rate. This, however, isn’t the hugest of problems as playing around with it a little will ensure you get it right. Be aware also that when draining this canister filter not all water will be removed from the media baskets and some may remain leading to splashes and spillages.

Main Pros

  • Quiet operation
  • Easy to clean
  • Xtender function

Main Cons

  • Initial set up (instructions not clear)
  • Stiff tubing
  • Flow rate difficult to control

For more information or to purchase click here.

Eheim Pro 4+ 250 Filter up to 65g

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Features

  • Pro4+ filter replaces the EHEIM Pro 3 range
  • This new filter doesnt just boast a new sleek black color but it also has a Range Xtender Function
  • As with most EHEIM filters, the Pro4+ comes complete with filter pads and media and all installation equipment

Hydor Professional 450 External Canister Filter, 75-125 GAL, 320 GPH

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Features

  • The hydor professional 450 Aquarium External 320GPH Filter is a complete eco-system in a box
  • All the biological, mechanical and chemical filtration that any environment requires for a healthy and long-lived Aquatic experience
  • From the easy priming feature to the telescopic intake tubes, everything had been made easy

Fluval Canister Filter, FX6 Filter (400 Gal)

$399.99
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Features

  • Multi-Stage Filter that produces healthy aquarium water, freshwater or marine aquariums
  • Features Smart Pump Technology for optimal filter performance, efficiency and management
  • Self-starting filter-just add water and plug in. Head height (maximum): 3.3 m (10.8 feet)
  • Built with a monthly maintenance reminder
  • For aquariums up to 400 gallons

Fluval G6 Advanced Filtration System

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Features

  • Powerful filtration system for use in both freshwater and marine environments
  • Easy to use; One button self-priming technology
  • Easy access and ability to view water temperature, flow rate and conductivity
  • Equipped with silicon gasket providing superior sealing and long-term reliability
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 160 gallons; Filters 265 gallons per hour; Voltage - 110 V 60Hz

Polar Aurora Free Media 4-stage External Canister Filter with 9-watt Uv Sterilizer, 525 GPH with Builtin Pump Kit Canister

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Features

  • Good for up to 200 gallon fish tanks.Flow rate: 525 GPH (2000L/hr). Pump Power: 55W
  • Built in 9 Watt UV sterilizer for controlling algae spores/bacteria and promoting clear water
  • Free Media Set 4 media trays capable of handling your choice of filtration media; Comes with an adjustable spray bar. This is a helpful feature if you want to adjust the output flow from the filter
  • Convenient self-priming pump that eliminates the need for manual siphoning; Single valve disconnect & priming pump ease routine maintenance
  • The three flexible media trays allow you to add other filtration media such as SunSun's activated carbons, ceramic rings or bio-balls to achieve excellent mechanical, chemical, and biological filtration.

Fluval 306 External Filter

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Features

  • Multi-stage filtration for healthy fresh & saltwater aquariums
  • Suitable for aquariums up to 70 gallons
  • Sound dampening impeller design for a quieter operation and head height (max.) is 5.8 feet
  • Equipped with a clog-proof intake strainer and a dual layer foam screen
  • Built with a patented Aquastop Valve, multiple filtration baskets, and rim connector assemblies; 3 year warranty

Penn Plax Cascade 1500 - 350GPH Canister Filter

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Features

  • Large capacity stackable media trays allow for multi-stage filtration
  • Quick & easy push-button primer and two independent 360 degree rotating taps
  • Flow rate shut-off valves adjust water flow and provide for easy maintenance.

Final Thoughts

There are many factors you should consider when buying a filter for a large tank. The obvious ones are price, capability, and size. Often brand awareness also comes into play. If you were given the choice of choosing a free filter would you choose a Fluval or a Jebao?

Many new manufacturers are now coming into play and competing with the bigger more well-known brands, and to be fair they are starting to bridge the quality gap.

Whichever filter you choose, ensure it will fit your needs. The Gallons Per Hour rating (GPH) is one of the most important things you should consider. It doesn’t matter what the filter looks like, or the price, if it can’t cope with the water volume within your tank then it’s worthless.

If you’re thinking of buying your first fish tank you might want to read our complete guide to starting an aquarium- Starting a fish tank for beginners. 

We hope we’ve helped you to make the right choice when purchasing a filter for larger aquariums.

If you have a smaller aquarium, let’s say 75 Gallons or less then have a look at our review of the Best filters for small fish tanks. 

Resources Used

https://www.hartz.com/understanding-aquarium-filtration/

https://www.petcoach.co/article/filter-functions-and-types-how-to-choose-the-right-kind-of/

http://injaf.org/articles-guides/beginners-guides/beginners-guide-to-aquarium-equipment/

https://www.marine.ie/Home/sites/default/files/MIFiles/Docs/EducationSupport/FishTankProblemSolvingandTroubleShooting.pdf

 

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